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HOWARD KOSSOVER: When to file for SSA benefits?

Q: How far in advance should I file for my Social Security retirement?

A: Usually about two months before you want benefits to start is plenty. You can file an application online or call (800) 772-1213 for an appointment. If making an appointment, keep in mind that it might be several weeks for an appointment to be available. Whatever your preferred method, use the Social Security retirement planning tools at The section “already near retirement age” discusses how to apply for benefits and supporting documents that might be needed.

Q: Child support is withheld from my wages. If I start receiving Social Security, will child support be withheld from my retirement?

A: Social Security benefits can be garnished for child support. For this to take place, the child support agency sends Social Security an income withholding order, just as orders are sent to employers. You would have to ask the child support agency if they intend to do this in your case.

Children can potentially receive Social Security benefits through your record when you do. If so, benefits to them would not reduce what you receive. See

Did you know?

SSA’s Internet site was launched on May 17, 1994. For accurate Social Security information, or to complete an application for benefits, visit it at

Kossover is the Social Security public affairs specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Reach him at Read his blog at social